looking through a glass onion

It is so, so freezing in Wellington lately, that straight-through-your-clothes harsh chill which makes getting out of bed in the morning that much more aggrieving. I was in Christchurch and Dunedin over the weekend for work which was also an intensely cold experience, not to mention pretty exhausting (can’t say I’ve been sleeping well recently, and sitting in clenched frustration for an hour and a half on a plastic chair in the Dunedin airport where there is nothing to do while waiting for your flight, followed by a further hour and a half’s wait at the Christchurch airport will take it out of you. This is New Zealand, not the mighty plains of Canada, I don’t see why we need flights with stop-overs.) Hence why it has been a while since I’ve blogged.

There’s not much I love doing more in winter than sitting by a roaring heater with a pile of my cookbooks, going through and imagining what shenanigans I could get up to. Cooking in winter is fun – all those long-simmered warming dishes that make the house smell amazing and warm you as you stand over them – unlike the summer heat when all you really want to do for dinner is sit quietly inside the freezer and lick its icy walls. One book that I had a flick through recently was the Supercooks Supersavers Cookbook, which I picked up at the local opshop back home for about a dollar a few years back. I love its season-based chapters, its 1980 style, and its seriously enthusiastic title.
I found this awesome sounding recipe for Onions Smothered with Walnuts. It’s basically onions roasted in a sticky, spicy sauce, and though they’re more “vaguely scattered” than “smothered” with the walnuts it’s a gorgeous combination of flavours.
Onions Smothered with Walnuts
From the Supercook’s Supersavers Cookbook

450g small pickling (pearl) onions, peeled (I didn’t have any, so just used whole onions, quartered)
75g walnuts, chopped
25g melted butter
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon chilli sauce
1/2 cup stock or water
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 170 C. In a bowl, mix everything together and pour into an oven-proof dish. Cover with tinfoil, and bake for around an hour, stirring once or twice. *Use olive oil and balsamic vinegar instead of the butter and worcestershire sauce to easily make this vegan. Yay!
It’s so good that I actually made it two nights in a row. In a weird twist of events, the first night I made it in a silicon dish and the second night I made it in a metal dish, and the second night the onions and sauce turned all black. Made me a little nervous, but not so nervous that I didn’t carry on eating the lot. This recipe has a lot going for it – it has punchy, warm flavours, it’s very cheap to make, it’s versatile, and it just cooks away by itself, not really requiring any attention. The honey, chilli and cinnamon are a brilliant combination and it’s perfect over pasta, which is how I had it, but would also work on couscous, mashed potatoes, rice, or stirred into a stew or roasted vegetables. Thanks, Supercook’s Supersavers Cookbook!
As I said, I’m pretty weary from the weekend, I haven’t been sleeping so well and on top of that I actually wasn’t feeling that great over the weekend. There were some diverting moments – seeing Graeme Downes of The Verlaines, The Dead C’s Bruce Russell and Flying Nun’s Roger Shepherd weighing in on a discussion panel about NZ Music, subsequently sitting behind the Verlaines on the flight to Dunedin, meeting with former flatmate Emma for a jolly catch-up, having an enthusiastic person “help” me by picking up my phone that I’d put on the ground right by my feet so I could take down a poster at an event, only to watch them accidentally drop it down three flights of stairs…
Title via: The Beatles’ Glass Onion from The White Album. One of their more intriguing contributions…
Music lately:
A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow, sung by Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy, from the film A Mighty Wind. This is absolutely my favourite film, and having it on my iPod made the four plane trips over the weekend much more bearable. This song is gorgeous even though it’s sending up the folk music genre, and Catherine O’Hara is just…perfect. Makes me want to learn the autoharp. Sincerely.
Bloodbuzz Ohio from The National’s new album High Violet. The album itself didn’t set me on fire but this song is a stunner and really showcases everything that’s good about The National. And you can check out a lengthier review I did of High Violet here at The Corner if you like.


Next time: I’ll hopefully be a touch more awake. It’s Queen’s Birthday weekend in a day or two, nothing like a Monday off to make you feel unbendingly fond of the monarchy. I found this really cool recipe for pumpkin bread that I’m keen to try, I also am thinking of getting the crock pot out from its hiding place, it’s now definitely cold enough out there…

11 thoughts on “looking through a glass onion

  1. sholmes says:

    Hi Laura.. can't even remember how I found your blog (maybe a random Facebook mention?) but I am a fan! Can't wait to try some of the recipes you've posted on here. Also like the music mentions.. you have good taste! (Or you have the same taste as me..) The National is/are awesome. And my two favourite tv shows are 30 Rock and The Wire, so muchly enjoying your quiet references to those. Liked the post about the food show… the Auckland show last year was fantastic. I'm over in London presently so it's nice to hear about food-related things back home. Keep writing please! πŸ™‚


  2. Kathleen says:

    That is going to be our dinner for tonight (and maybe tomorrow too!). What a gorgeous use for our twelve million kilos of walnuts…We have a walnut tree which must be over a hundred years old, and at this time of year we have so many walnuts we end up using them as firelighters!

    I'm dipping back into my gorgeous fruit puff supply later on today to make some lolly cake πŸ˜‰ Mmmmmmm….


  3. Hannah says:

    Oh you poor thing! Airports are, I'm pretty sure, the first level of hell. At least, my experience with them has made me quite confident that this is the case.

    I very much hope you're able to get some sleep and that Collins and Angel serenade you with “I'll Cover You” in your dreams.

    P.S. Smothered onions? Heck yeah.


  4. Scotty says:

    Golly Laura! That post made homesick. I'd love to be back in your warm kitchen. That looks delicious, remind me to make it when I get back. I think I'm going to go through your catalogue.
    Hope you and Tim are well.
    Miss you two, I'm wracked with guilt for not saying goodbye to you two properly!


  5. Anonymous says:

    Hi Laura

    I'm a fan of your blog – very awesome. I'm wondering if you had any good/bad culinary experiences in Dunedin or Christchurch? As I live in Dunedin (and often visit Christchurch) and am always interested in how people find our eating places. Also after reading your last blog I thought I'd let you know that Graeme Downes is the supervisor of my thesis – a very cool helpful guy with an amazing brain. (He likes spring rolls.)

    Rach πŸ™‚


  6. Samantha @ The Savvy Soybean says:

    This looks FANTASTIC!! Just bookmarked that recipe, I think my boyfriend would love it. By the way, The National is one of my favorite bands. Almost saw them at BAM in Brooklyn recently, but we had a previous engagement. Alligator is definitely my all-time favorite album, with Boxer coming in a close second =)


  7. Kathleen says:

    I wish I'd just had a video camera going – I was having a wee Chess singalong & playing the piano for my little dude (Someone Else's Story), and he started swaying & dancing around the piano!

    As a Chess fan, I think it would have made you smile πŸ˜‰


  8. Laura @ Hungry and Frozen says:

    Sholmes: Yay, welcome! Always nice to find another Wire fan. Enjoy London πŸ™‚

    Sadako: Nice indeed.

    Kathleen: Lucky you! I'd take a million walnuts over a lack of fruit puffs any day πŸ™‚

    Hannah: Agreed, airports can be pretty awful. Being serenaded with I'll Cover You sounds fantastic right now πŸ™‚

    Scotty: Golly, you ought to feel guilty! KIDDING we are the sort of friends that you can not see for a bit and we'll still love ya. Enjoy your time overseas, be good πŸ™‚

    Rach: Hiya, how awesome that you have someone of that calibre overseeing your thesis! I didn't really get to go out much while I was down south but there was this nice place on the corner across the road from the Chch Town Hall where I grabbed some dinner – it was open pretty late and had amazing ginger caramel slice. And in Dunedin I had dinner at this place called Jitsu, super cheap delicious Japanese food πŸ™‚

    Samatha: Hope you get another chance to see them!

    Kathleen: Smiling + a giant AWWWWW πŸ™‚


  9. Hannah says:

    *clears throat*

    Open your doooooor, I'll be your tenant, don't got much baggage to lay at your feeeeeeeeeeeet…

    There, don't'cha feel better already?

    (Don't'cha! Don't'cha wish your girlfriend was…. ugh. No. That one makes ME feel worse.)


  10. Kay says:

    Hope you have lots of time for cooking over the long weekend (Gotta love the Monarchy for the early-winter-statutory-Monarch's-birthday-holiday.)

    I'm wondering if you were using some of those fresh walnuts for the recipe. On the strength of the wonderful taste of fresh-from-the-tree walnuts, I'm considering planting my own tree…and waiting.

    Good luck with job-hunting for T. There is, out there, an employer who doesn't yet know how lucky they are going to be when they find him.


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